NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute

The NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute is an unparalleled experience for four emerging composers to hear their music performed by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and participate in in-depth sessions with industry experts.

Lead by Steven Mackey, the sixth annual Cone Composition Institute will be held July 15–20, 2019. The Institute culminates in an NJSO performance of the composers’ works at Richardson Auditorium in Princeton.

The 2019 Institute composers include Dan Caputo (USC) with his work Liminal, Patrick O’Malley (USC) with his work Rest and Restless, Iván Enrique Rodríguez (Juilliard) with his work A Metaphor for Power and Bora Yoon (Princeton) with her work The Encyclopedia of Winds.

The four composers chosen for this tuition-free institute will participate in daily activities including:

  • Rehearsals of their works with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
  • One-on-one and group coaching with Institute Director Steven Mackey and Cristian Măcelaru
  • Sessions on public speaking, music editing and networking skills
  • Feedback from new music industry leaders, NJSO musicians and staff
  • NJSO premiere of each composer’s work in a public concert at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University

The application process for the 2020 Cone Institute will open in the fall of 2019.


  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Must not have been selected as past participant of the Cone Composition Institute.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Edward T. Cone Composition Institute welcome and value diversity, inclusion and equity in all forms. 


  1. One original composition per application using the following guidelines:
    • Composition shall not exceed 13 minutes in duration and must be an orchestral work (no concerto soloists)
    • Instrumentation may not exceed: 3‐3‐3‐3 woodwinds (including standard doublings), 4‐3‐3‐1 brass, timpani, 3 percussion, 1 harp, 1 keyboard (piano, celeste or synthesizer) and strings.
    • Composition must have no prior professional performance.
    • Three bound copies of the score must be submitted in printed hard copy (11 x 17 in. or smaller) using a standard notation program such as Sibelius or Finale. Handwritten scores will not be accepted.
    • Scores and parts must adhere to Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association (MOLA) guidelines.
    • Audio representation of the work, such as a MIDI mock-up or a live orchestra reading, in mp3 format.
    • Must include brief program notes or a general description of the composition.
  2. One-page resume
  3. One letter of recommendation
  4. Signed and dated copy of the application form [pdf]

Participant Information

Cost, housing and travel information

The Institute is tuition-free and housing on the campus of Princeton University (single room with air-conditioning) and on-campus meals will be provided, if needed. If a selected composer elects not to use provided housing and meal service, no financial remuneration will be made.

The NJSO will reimburse participants up to $250 towards travel costs. Receipts will be required for reimbursement.

Publicity material requirements for selected participants

Selected composers will be required to submit the following items by mail and email. Please do not submit these materials with the application. The NJSO reserves the right to edit submitted bios and program notes to match NJSO style.

By Email:

  • Email to: [email protected]
  • A full set of digital parts following the MOLA guidelines [pdf], with measure numbers at the beginning of each line, and up to three additional scores.
  • A bio of no more than 200 words.
  • Program notes of no more than 250 words.
  • A headshot, minimum 300 dpi, 750x750 pixels or larger.

By Mail:

Mail to: Cassandra Mueller, Artistic Operations Coordinator, NJSO, 60 Park Place, Suite 900, Newark, NJ 07102.

  • Submit a full set of hardcopy parts following the MOLA guidelines [pdf], with measure numbers at the beginning of each line, and up to three additional scores.
  • All materials must be submitted as requested above.

For more information, contact Cassandra Mueller, Artistic Operations Coordinator, at [email protected] or 973.735.1740.

Learn more about the Cone Composition Institute


The NJSO and Princeton University Department of Music are well positioned to provide emerging composers with a comprehensive Institute experience that will enhance their careers. Over years of reading sessions in which the NJSO has played through orchestral works written by Princeton University Ph.D. composition candidates, the Orchestra and its musicians are experienced in mentoring and advising student composers. Through the NJSO’s commitment to presenting new music, the Orchestra has performed works not only by the late Princeton University professor and composer Edward T. Cone, but also by composers who felt the impact of Cone’s legacy as a teacher.

Mackey—a lauded composer and William Schubael Conant Professor of Music at Princeton University—says: “The NJSO has had a strong relationship with Princeton University composers for years, and we are excited to again partner with the Orchestra for this immersive composition institute. This program fosters emerging composing talent by preparing composers for both the creative and practical elements of composing works for orchestra.”

By the end of the Institute, participants will have gained invaluable musical and practical feedback about writing for orchestra through real-time interactions with Mackey, Măcelaru and NJSO musicians, as well as advice from decision makers in the industry about how to get their music published and performed.

Institute Director Bio

Steven Mackey, Institute Director

Steven Mackey was born in 1956 to American parents stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. He is regarded as one of the leading composers of his generation and has composed for orchestra, chamber ensemble, dance and opera. His first musical passion was playing the electric guitar in rock bands based in northern California. He blazed a trail in the 1980s and 90s by including the electric guitar and vernacular music influence in his concert music, and he regularly performs his own works, including two electric guitar concertos and numerous solo and chamber works. He is also active as an improvising musician and performs with his band Big Farm.

Mackey’s music has been performed by leading musical institutions throughout the world, including the Los Angeles, BBC and New York philharmonics; San Francisco and Chicago symphonies; Philadelphia and Concertgebeouw orchestras and Brentano, Kronos and Arditti string quartets, among others. He has received numerous awards, including a Grammy Award in 2012 for his album Lonely Motel: Music from Slide.

2019 Conductor Bio

Cristian Măcelaru, conductor

Newly appointed chief conductor designate of the WDR Sinfonieorchester, Cristian Măcelaru is one of the fast-rising stars of the conducting world. He takes on this new position at WDR, one of Europe’s leading orchestras, effective with the 2019–20 season.

Măcelaru is music director and conductor of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. In August 2018, he leads his second season in premiere-filled programs of new works by an esteemed group of composers. Among the 2018 season’s highlights are three world premieres, a record-breaking 16 composers-in-residence and two special tributes to commemorate William Bolcom’s and John Corigliano’s respective 80th birthdays.

Măcelaru attracted international attention for the first time in 2012, when he stepped into the breach with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, deputizing for Pierre Boulez. In the same year, he received the Solti Emerging Conductor Award for young conductors, followed in 2014 by the Solti Conducting Award. Since then, he has performed regularly at the podium of the best American orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra and Philadelphia Orchestra, where he served for three seasons as conductor-in-residence.

In Europe, Măcelaru has been in great demand as a guest conductor with many well-known orchestras and festivals, among others the Bayerischen Rundfunk Symphonieorchester, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Danish National Symphony Orchestra.

Măcelaru was born in Timișoara, Romania, and comes from a musical family. The youngest of 10 children, he received instrumental lessons at an early age—like all his siblings—in his case, on the violin. His studies took him from Romania to the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, University of Miami in Florida and Rice University in Houston, where he studied conducting with Larry Rachleff.

About the Organizations

Princeton University Department of Music

Princeton’s Department of Music is at the epicenter of a musical culture that is broad and deep, reaching from edge to edge of the campus, from the classroom to the concert hall, into the community and from faculty-led groups to those run exclusively by students.

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

Named “a vital, artistically significant musical organization” by The Wall Street Journal, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra embodies that vitality through its statewide presence and critically acclaimed performances, education partnerships and unparalleled access to music and the Orchestra’s superb musicians.

Music Director Xian Zhang—a “dynamic podium presence” The New York Times has praised for her “technical abilities, musicianship and maturity”—continues her acclaimed leadership of the NJSO. The Orchestra presents classical, pops and family programs, as well as outdoor summer concerts and special events. Embracing its legacy as a statewide orchestra, the NJSO is the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and regularly performs at State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick, Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Richardson Auditorium in Princeton, Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown and bergenPAC in Englewood. Partnerships with New Jersey arts organizations, universities and civic organizations remain a key element of the Orchestra’s statewide identity.

In addition to its lauded artistic programming, the NJSO presents a suite of education and community engagement programs that promote meaningful, lifelong engagement with live music. Programs include school-time Concerts for Young People; NJSO Youth Orchestras family of student ensembles, led by José Luis Domínguez; and El Sistema-inspired NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project). NJSO musicians annually perform original chamber music programs at community events in a variety of settings statewide through the NJSO Community Partners program.

For more information about the NJSO, visit njsymphony.org or email [email protected]. Tickets are available for purchase by phone at 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476) or on the Orchestra’s website.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s programs are made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, along with many other foundations, corporations and individual donors.

Cone Composition Institute 2018

The 2018 Cone Institute composers were Jonathan Cziner, Natalie Dietterich, Aaron Hendrix and Brian Shank. View concert and composer information.

Major underwriting support for The NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute is generously provided by The Edward T. Cone Foundation and Princeton University.